Family Review: THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN 2 Largely Surpasses The Original6 min read

By Trina Boice

Reprinted with permission from Movie Review Mom


Brought to you by BYU TV and Kolipoki Pictures, this Two Roads film is based on a true story and the missionary efforts of Elder John H. Groberg. If you saw the first movie, The Other Side of Heaven, you will remember the sweet spirit of the storytelling and the heart of the beautiful Tongan people. This sequel takes place 10 years after the original movie and is a heartwarming reunion with more inspiration and miracles.  You don’t need to have seen the first movie, but it certainly helps in order to appreciate the history and significance of some of the relationships.  Be sure to check out the Movie Review Mom YouTube channel for an interview with director Mitch Davis later this week!

The film is filled with lessons for us to learn and not just for members. While the movie will have special meaning for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, everyone can enjoy it and be touched by it. As we’re told in this movie, if you wait long enough, all stories have happy endings.

Bring tissues. I was a weepy mess.


Some Christian movies are heavy-handed and even cheesy at times, but this one will fill your soul and make you feel.  Some reviewers have criticized the acting and music as being overly melodramatic.  That is true at times, although I thought the music was noticeably good.  The production value of the film is very good. The film was made in Fiji because the tax rebate to film there was 47 percent.  There is one scene, however, where some people are in a boat and it looks like a crew is throwing buckets of water onto the actors on the bow of the ship.  There is some humor, which is always appreciated.  Abigail, the goat in a dress . . . totally adorable

Christopher Gorham is absolutely fantastic.  He reminds me of Chris Evans’ goodness as Captain America.  Director Mitch Davis chose Gorham because “he has a very gentle soul.” He learned to speak Tongan very well in the first movie and his speech coach said his accent was perfect.  I loved hearing the Tongan people sing often in the movie. You will love this soundtrack Voices from the Other Side of Heaven 2: Tongan Sacred Hymns. Did you know that he is a trained auctioneer like his grandfather?

When they were interviewing actors to play Thomas S. Monson, the moment they first saw Russell Dixon, they knew he was the right man for the job. After the real Thomas S. Monson watched the first The Other Side of Heaven movie in 2001, he immediately asked, “When are you going to make the second movie?” John Groberg said to director Mitch Davis, “I’m not getting any younger and neither are you, so it’s time!”  

Viewers who aren’t members of the faith probably won’t appreciate the significance of Thomas S. Monson in many scenes, other than to recognize him as Elder Groberg’s “boss.” Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be tickled by his remarkable similarities to the man who later became the much-loved president of the Church.  There’s a gross scene where Thomas S. Monson stomps on cockroaches with some children. Ick. It’s used to illustrate his playfulness and rapport with children.

It’s too bad Anne Hathaway wasn’t able to return to her role in this project. It would have been great to see her continue the story. When she starred in The Other Side of Heaven, she was a new actress, but now that she’s a big Academy Award-winning movie star, her fee was too much for this budget. The actress who replaced her in this movie is Natalie Medlock from New Zealand.

I always love it when you get to see pictures and video of the real people of a true story in movies. You get to see a lot of that during the rolling credits, as well as a photo update of the principle “characters” in the movie.

The funeral scene was touching and heartbreaking.  The moment that really got me to tear up was after the storm when Nancy yelled, “Hoorah for Israel!” From then on, I went through quite a few tissues until the end of the movie.


  1. There is talk of throwing a little pig into the ocean.
  2. Someone dies. Two more people barely hang on to life.
  3. People are in perilous situations.
  4. Some men beat up another young man.
  5. You see dead chickens hanging and getting de-feathered.
  6. It’s very dramatic. When I took my children to see the first movie, one of my sons said, “I’m so glad I’m not a member of THAT church.” What’s funny is that we ARE members of that church! Being a member of a church that demands the best of us can be difficult, but it is through the sacrifices and faith that we are able to experience miracles and see the hand of God in our lives. I really do know that God lives, loves us, and watches over us.  That doesn’t mean our lives will be perfect.  It does mean that the Lord is aware of our needs and will give us strength to bare the burdens we face.


  1. Peace
  2. “I want you to know, even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard, I know we are about God’s work.” – Jean Groberg (Natalie Medlock)
  3. “Ah, love. Let us be true to another.” – From a poem by Mathew Arnold that Elder Groberg read that made him think of the loss of faith in the world.
  4. What it means to be truly Christlike.
  5. This movie shines as an insightful look on the father/son relationship, just as it shines a light on Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ. John Groberg said to his wife, “Can you imagine it, Jean….God sending His only son to Earth to die. But He did, He really did.”
  6. Prayer
  7. Hard work + fierce faith = miracles (what was written on the chalkboard during a missionary meeting)
  8. Whether you’re religious or not, you can’t deny the power of surrounding yourself with a loving, supportive community of friends.


  1. “I’ve always wanted to meet a miracle!” – Nancy
  2. “I want to see the miracle!” – Nancy
  3. “Stay here and pray for it.” – John Groberg
  4. “God’s work waits for no one.” – John Groberg
  5. “Your family IS God’s work.” – Elder Monson


Trina Boice is an author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho in the Pathway program.  She received the Young Mother of the Year honor in 2004, an award that completely amuses her 4 sons. She’s a popular international speaker in China and writes movie reviews at You can find her books on Amazon, and at

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